I am an “Uber” novice. The Girl, on the other hand, is a pro.
During our recent trip to San Diego, she was in charge of our transportation needs from our hotel to everywhere we wanted to go. You guys. Did you know that it is possible to use an app on your phone to get a ride from a stranger with a nice, clean, car? Now, I’m still not even really sure what an “app” is, to be honest. I still consider the Internet and whatever “the Cloud” is to be some type of evil magic. Yes. I know. I suffer from some weird generational paranoia when it comes to technology. And so, it is no surprise that I found the fact that my traveling companion could simply look at her cell phone, tap her little fingers, and have a driver appear in front of the hotel ten minutes later utterly amazing.
I remember wearing out boxes of colored pencils in Mr. Waller’s “jog-raphy” class in junior high. You, too? Maybe that class, like so many others, is now obsolete because nobody has to learn to read a map in 2016. Each of the Uber cars was outfitted with a small screen and a voice telling the driver where to turn as we wound our way through palm-lined residential streets and along highways during our trip.
On the first day, when we arrived at our destination, I pulled out my wallet to pay the driver. The Girl and driver looked at me like the dinosaur I am. You GUYS. Did you know that it is possible to be taken anywhere by a stranger with a nice car in a strange city and not even exchange any money at the end of the trip?? Apparently, the app takes care of the payment process, too. Wow.
We are really living in amazing times, aren’t we?
Our drivers were a window into America in 2016. One young man in a Prius had come from Istanbul in search of the American Dream. A former software developer who’d chucked the grind in the Silicon Valley, his dream was to move to Maui and jump from cliffs into waterfalls which I guess is as good a dream as any. And then, there was the grandfather from Armenia in the Civic. His opinion of the American Dream? “Work all the time. Never close your eyes to sleep.” We met a retired school teacher – turned Uber driver who’d spent his life in San Diego, and a young woman with four kids who shared her stories of sneaking into Tijuana as a teenager to drink beer who said that she’d ground her kids for life if they pulled the same thing. There was the tall African American man in a Lincoln Navigator with tinted windows and rap videos playing on a screen in the back seat and others, as well. Picking up travelers in one location and dropping them in another. And in between, telling their stories to a dinosaur from a faraway place called Minnesota.
Technology. Every day, it makes one more thing obsolete. It forces dinosaurs to evolve and adapt, which is good for the dinosaurs.
But it will never replace the need to tell our stories about where we are “from” to other members of the human race. It will never replace the need to share our hopes and fears and dreams with other living, breathing, human beings.
Isn’t THAT amazing?